It’s rare that any major video game release lives up to my expectations. Games nowadays have teasers for their full trailers, posters, commercials, swag, and every other marketing ploy you can come up with to create unprecedented hype for whatever game their trying to push out the retail doors. With that being said, we’ve been following WildStar here at Den of Geek very closely for quite some time, and I can’t remember any other game I’ve personally been so excited for in my life. More importantly, I can’t remember a game I’ve been so excited for in my life that has actually lived up to the hype behind it. WildStar is the latest game to do just that.
There’s a lot to love with Carbine Studios’ new lovechild, but the most notable aspect that separates it from other MMOs on the market is its character–and it has TONS of it. From little quirks like having “nom, nom, nom” fly over your head while you eat to cool-looking mobs to fresh, new lore, WildStar certainly brings much needed uniqueness into the crowded MMO space. The story is intricate and unique, and you’ll have to piece it together with lore books and datacubes you’ll find scattered about Nexus, the planet on which the game takes place, as well as through the game’s interesting characters. But, basically, you’re placed on Nexus as part of the Exiles or the Dominion to fight for your faction’s rightful ownership of Nexus as you also attempt to unravel the secrets behind The Eldan–the race that was on Nexus before you bozos arrived–and what exactly happened to them.
My character is on the Soldier’s path; he’s a stone-cold killer that likes to use powerful weapons on their foes. These paths (soldier, settler, explorer or scientist) add more quests for you to complete based on your preferred type of gameplay, complete with an XP bar of its own. Level up this specific path XP and you’ll earn yourself certain abilities and items that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you.
Combat feels great, and is obviously the game’s greatest asset. Defeating your foe is more gratifying than your typical MMO baddie, since you’re not just standing there and mashing buttons. No, instead you have to avoid enemy telegraphs while lining up your own attacks to do the most damage, while avoiding other mobs around you as to not attract too much attention to yourself. It’s action packed, and a much welcomed breath of fresh air into the MMO space.
PvP is also a strong point for the game, and I’m actually glad I chose to join a PvP server instead of a typical PvE server. It has created a new addiction for me: hunting down members of the opposing faction and killing them when they have no idea I’m even near them. It is immensely gratifying to get that gank. But world PvP aside, the battlegrounds and arena battles are also pretty intense. Because of the combat system, it is like having a completely separate game within the game. I’d love to see bigger maps added in the future, though, as the Arena maps are a little too small. Hell, give me a 10v10 Arena battle while you’re at it.
Also noteworthy is WildStar’s fantastic soundtrack, which helps to musically paint the chimerical extra-terrestrial paradise that is Nexus. The game is loaded with incredible battle hymns, marches, theme music and some lighter-hearted scherzos. Kudos to composer Jeff Kurtenacker for creating an unprecedented high-quality soundtrack.
Nexus also looks pretty great, although it still has a few bugs to work out. I usually have no problem getting at least 60 fps in my time on Nexus, but when taking a taxi my framerate would drop to 1 or 2 fps–clearly, it’s a bug of some sort. Aside from that, the only other bug I ran into was random minimizing to Windows. No quests were bugged that I noticed, which is quite an achievement with so many quests.
And, there are so many quests. Basically, you’ll get two handfuls of quests in each area, and for the most part, they’re all completed in the same proximity. There is quite a grand variety of quests, but for the most part it is go here, kill this, take their fat lootz, and then return it to the quest giver. There are some truly great quests on Nexus, though. For example, one of the most enjoyable quests I’ve come across so far puts you in an outerspace mine that has been overrun by some sort of plague, and you’re forced to navigate the mine and clear it out. It’s delightfully spooky–as spooky as an animated MMO could possibly be. Which reminds me–another one of the great things about WildStaris that you don’t always have to return to the quest giver to turn in your quests. Many of the quests can be turned in remotely, thus reducing the necessity to travel back and forth to the village.
There are a number of options for travel, including by foot, taxi, teleporting, and eventually (at level 15) a mount. Unfortunately, the mount isn’t much of a speed increase at this point; you feel like you’re moving in slow motion compared to mounts in other games. The need for speed is satisfied at level 40 via a speed increase that costs 50 gold.
As far as the game’s economy is concerned, it’s very healthy at this point. I haven’t noticed things being too cheap or too overpriced on the auction house, nor at the commodities broker (which is what you’ll use for crafting supplies). I’m not sure why Carbine decided to separate the two buying hubs instead of just having one, but it’s working wonderfully. At the commodities exchange, you’re able to sell off your stuff to the broker for quick cash, or place it in a 7 day bid war to get the most coin for your product. Again, more options.
Player housing in WildStar is the best and most customizable I’ve seen in the MMO market. Housing is unlocked at level 14. This is the main reason I was interested in the game, and it certainly lived up to its expectations. You’re able to purchase (or craft) items to place in your house, some of which can even provide an XP bonus for you (assuming you teleport back to your house for extra rest XP before logging out each time). You’re even able to give your housing plot a name. You’ll also find FABkits scattered about the world that allow you to place special “plugs” onto your land. For example, I placed a crafting table in my yard so that I don’t have to wait the full 24 hours to teleport to the main city (Illium) to craft. Instead, I’m able to teleport back to my house just about any time I want outside of the 20 minute cooldown. You can buy items to fill your house with, including a completely badass throne, giant booze cabinet with a bar, and weapons. But it’s the players that are adding yet another gameplay option to WildStar,as I’m already seeing players creating jump puzzles and holding contests to see who on the server can complete it in the shortest amount of time.
Crafting is also quite formidable, with options galore. You’re able to choose two different professions from quite a number of options (and undoubtedly more will be added with content patches and expansions). I chose to be a survivalist and architect so that I can build items for housing and eventually sell other materials as a moneymaker. You’re also able to acquire crafting quests that are specifically for your profession that will net you some cool rewards. You can grind for the necessary materials as you come across them while questing, or you can simply by your materials on the commodities exchange, if you’ve got the dime.
Costumes and dyes are also a very welcomed aspect of WildStar.Sure, dyes have been done before, but WildStarallows you to dye costumes for you to wear over your gear, so that you can get the style you want without having to lose your awesome stats. Or, you can dye your awesome gear. Dyes can be crafted, found in the world, or bought. Again, options.
Although newcomers could easily become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content, quests and ideas WildStar offers, all of the ideas work wonderfully once fleshed out and if things are taken slowly. So, take things slowly–this isn’t an MMO where you’ll want to rush to max-level (50) and call it a day. Carbine has done a fantastic job taking all of the enjoyable aspects from other MMOs and adding their own twist and/or beefing it up somehow. This is a journey worth taking, and WildStaris the MMO we’ve been waiting for. Give me a shout if you see me running around Nexus–I’m on the BloodSworn (PvP) server with a character named Founders (I’m a member of the Landshark guild).